Editorials

Editorials
RedMorgan's Column: What Darkfall Expects of You

Lance Wheeler | 23 Jul 2007 16:14
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Our new columnist, RedMorgan, has published his first column today here at Darkfall Warcry. Today he talks about how now in MMO's everyone is a hero and how Darkall is different then that.

RedMorgan:
So how do these games become more accessible to the drooling masses? Easy! Just implement grinding, level treadmills, restrict any and all competition whatsoever. These systems are intentionally in place to prevent anyone from over-achieving or failing. I recently saw a WoW ad that said "Come join 8 million heroes!" Suddenly every single player is automatically a hero?

Click below to read more!



RedMorgan's Column: What Darkfall Expects of You
Written by RedMorgan (Darkfall Warcry columnist)

Often when we talk about Darkfall Online, we're really talking about what it isn't more so than what it is. Many consider it the anti-WoW, a game so fundamentally different from the norm that it forces us to reconsider what a MMORPG really is. I felt compelled to look into the driving force behind the status quo games, to see what exactly Darkfall isn't. What I came across is an influential presentation given at the Game Developers Conference of 2003, and what I learned is that most MMORPG developers don't expect much from you at all.

"Small Worlds" is the name of the presentation given by the great game designer Raph Koster. Koster was the lead designer of Ultima Online, creative director for Star Wars Galaxies and also did some work for Sony Online. His presentation defined many already well-implemented practices of MMORPGs , and the logic behind these practices is quite revealing... and well, sad.

A large portions of this presentation focuses on the notion that player skill-based MMOs are bad business sense, because not everyone is equal. Koster cites something called the Pareto principle, which states that 20% of the people consolidate 80% of the power in any group. That means that the 1/5 of the community in a skill-based game will be vastly more skilled and powerful than the other remaining players. Also, competition is apparently a bad thing for e-social lives-- if players recognize that certain other players achieve more in a ladder system, it supposedly disrupts the balance of the social network.

What we have here, is a very prominent figure in the industry espousing a view, to other industry representatives, that if you don't cater to the plebeians, you can't expect to be successful. It's kind of like the McDonald's strategy applied to online gaming. They serve cheap crappy food, but anyone can afford it and you probably don't even need to wear a shirt to get into the restaurant. Maybe the service and the quality of the meal sucks, but it's familiar and you know you'll get the same crappy service all across the board. Billions get served.

So how do these games become more accessible to the drooling masses? Easy! Just implement grinding, level treadmills, restrict any and all competition whatsoever. These systems are intentionally in place to prevent anyone from over-achieving or failing. I recently saw a WoW ad that said "Come join 8 million heroes!" Suddenly every single player is automatically a hero? Essentially, most MMOs are designed so anyone can hop on a game, gain levels and pay $15 US per month for their instant hero status.

These designers don't want to reward players for their achievements. They just want to make every mouth-breather who logs on think that they're special, for fear that they'll quit playing at any sign of disappointment. And even worse, they expect us all to be morons.

Critics say that Darkfall won't have a big enough niche to survive. That we'll start playing and suddenly long for the coma-like gameplay that only grinding can bring us. Because of this, the industry has been unwilling to take a chance and put up a 5-Star restaurant in a McDonald's neighborhood. The time has come for our community to prove them wrong.

As players, we have high expectations for Darkfall. We all hold it to a higher standard, but I think its greatest feature is what Darkfall expects from us. We're expected to prove ourselves through skill, tact and valor. We're expected to understand that not every day can be a good day, and every now and then we'll experience failure. We're expected to not quit if we're killed, looted and our cities are burned to the ground. We're expected to earn the title of "hero" through our actions and not our credit cards. Darkfall respects me as a player, and that's why Darkfall has, in return, earned my respect.

By now, we all know what Darkfall is, but what Darkfall isn't? The word patronizing comes to mind.

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